Anyone who knows me knows that I am the type of person who thrives on routine, order, and organization. I like being productive and have had to teach myself that it is ok to have days where I don't feel as efficient as it causes me to appreciate time on task that much more. I have had classmates tell me I am intimidating to approach since it seems like I am always writing. My planner could easily be considered my lifeline at school and my friends’ joke after doing things together that they are glad I had time to schedule them in. All of that to be said, I enjoy being productive because of the free time it allows me to have later on into my day. There are certainly weeks where free time feels inexistent but when being productive works in my favor I value the time it has allowed me to spend with others and do things I am passionate about.
Over time I have begun to realize what helps to make me more productive creating the most free time for myself in the long run. Friends have asked me how I manage to "do it all." While that's incredibly flattering it definitely isn't always the case but I swear by these tips to help me accomplish all of my tasks in a timely and productive manner.
Get up and get going.
Junior year has been the year of becoming a morning person. From early morning fieldwork at schools in Greenville, to working out before class, or studying at Starbucks before the library opens I am so much more productive first thing in the morning. Setting an early alarm has helped me to accomplish more before my classes even begin for the day, which has helped to set myself up for a productive day. Grab a cup of coffee and start tackling your to-do list first thing in the morning; you'll be surprised by how much you can get accomplished.
Have a set morning routine.
Habits are a wonderful thing. Waking up around the same time each day and starting your morning in the same way will help you get through those daily and monotonous tasks in a more efficient manner. The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is brush my teeth, make my breakfast, and make my bed. Doing these things in the same order each morning helps me to start my day even if I'm not fully awake right away. By making breakfast at the same time as making my bed I am able to multi task while setting myself up for better concentration the rest of the day.
Plan out your day.
As I mentioned, I swear by my planner! I like having a general idea of what I have going on each day so that I am able to schedule in additional time to get work done. Making to-do lists are a great start to this as there is nothing more satisfying that crossing something off that list. I wish I were kidding when I say it instantly makes me feel more productive. On the flip side, not to-do lists are equally as effective. Writing down things that limit your productivity on this list will help to hold you accountable and not waste time throughout your day when you're attempting to be productive.
As you're planning out your day prioritizing your tasks based on what you need to get accomplished first is a great way for me to begin the day feeling productive. Prioritize tasks that are more time sensitive than others but if you need a little extra motivation try to accomplish something on your to-do list that you know won't take too long to do. By completing that task and checking it off your list hopefully you will feel more inspired to continue being productive.
Take each task one step at a time.
I definitely have a tendency to look at all I have to do and get a bit overwhelmed. I've learned that I function best and am most productive when I focus on one task at a time and even one part of that task at a time. Sometimes the big picture can be overwhelming and discouraging but by doing this I am in control of making each thing more manageable.
Keep it clean.
Whether you're working in your room or in the library you're bound to be more productive when it is easier for you to find all of the materials you need quickly without the distraction of clutter. Take a few minutes at the beginning of your study time to organize your surroundings so that they don't prevent your productivity.
Know when to take a break.
Taking a break can be a hard thing to do especially when you feel as though you're on a roll. There are all sorts of different suggestions for how long you should work before taking a break but I really think it depends on the person and what they are looking to accomplish. If you're taking breaks more frequently try to time them and stick to the break time pretty specifically to avoid getting too off task but know that in order to continue being productive in the time to come your mind needs to have a bit of time to think about something else.
Similarly to keeping it clean, eliminating distractions is a great way to make sure that you are being productive without worrying too much about your surroundings. My guess is that for most high school and college student’s distractions come in the form of technology. If you need to be on your computer or keep your phone nearby utilize apps that help limit what you're able to do. Self Control is my favorite computer app that helps to keep me productive while avoiding online shopping, netflix, blogs, or anything else that may take away from getting my assignments done. For my phone, I prefer to put it on airplane mode or charge it up while I am trying to stay focused. Only looking at it during breaks helps me to accomplish my assignments in a more efficient manner and have more time to do those things if I so please later on in the day.
Find a change in scenery.
Sometimes when studying I can start to feel stuck especially when I have been in the same place for an extended period of time. Finding a new place on campus or even off campus is a great way to refocus your mind in order to be more productive. I also like to find a change of scenery sporadically during the week, as I get antsy being in the same place for too long. Whether that is to go and workout, grab a meal with a friend, or go for a drive it always helps me to clear my head and come back to my work more focused.
Get enough sleep.
I may not be the best one to give advice on this matter however this year especially I have learned to value a goodnights sleep. While it certainty helps you to wake up more refreshed I find myself much more productive when I am not fully reliant on coffee to keep my eyes open while studying. Falling asleep on your books in the library definitely isn't ideal nor is it productive so try to avoid that by getting the amount of sleep your body needs to keep you accomplishing tasks all day long.
With finals at the end of this week and needing to be equally as productive this weekend to pack up my apartment I know I'll be doing my best to follow these tips as the semester winds to a close. I'd love to hear any additional tips you may have for staying productive and hope that these help you to finish your semester strong!